Day by Day

Monday, January 26, 2004

Reason #1,456,823,859 to NOT TRUST THE GOVERNMENT!

Because the Feds don't keep their word.

The Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) recently reversed itself and said it would publish personal information--including e-mail addresses, mailing addresses, and phone numbers--of those who had commented on a government proceeding in 2003. The TTB is the successor to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the enforcement sections of which are now part of the Department of Homeland Security

Just remember that when they talk about firearm registration. "Oh, we'd never use it for X or Y, we only want it for Z!" Yeah right. Uh huh, suuuuuuure.

The brouhaha began in March 2003, when TTB solicited comments about a proposal to raise the tax rates of flavored malt beverages, such as Smirnoff Ice, which combine beer and distilled spirits. At that time, the TTB announced in the Federal Register that "for the convenience of the public, we will also post comments received in response to this notice on the TTB Web site. All comments posted on our Web site will show the name of the commenter, but will not show street addresses, telephone numbers, or e-mail addresses."

News of the proposed changes spread, and by October, TTB had received some 9,900 e-mailed comments and about 4,800 delivered via fax or mail.

Then the department changed its position on posting private information

Giving money and power to the government is like giving car keys and a bottle of whiskey to a teenager - P.J. O'Rourke

The TTB's decision, based strictly on convenience, is one, that if taken by a private firm, would draw the attention, and likely the ire, of consumers and governmental regulatory agencies alike, said Hunter.

"If a private sector company had done this, solicited personal information under the promise of privacy and then reneged, they would undoubtedly have attracted attention. It would be the grounds for a lawsuit if a private-sector entity attempted it."

Sounds like a good idea to me!

Hat tip to Kim du Toit.

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